The Title

I’ve often thought about the other paths that I could take, or the other opportunities that I could have explored. In this ever-growing industry, professionals are faced with a plethora of options, paths, focus areas, job opportunities and decisions. When I began my career, I was not focused on the title at all. Instead, I focused on finding a position that would yield the most exposure to the industry that so interested me. Getting my start as a market research analyst at a small cloud service provider, I was exposed to many different practice areas within the world of IT, from management of assets and resources, to the deployment of virtual systems in the cloud. This exposure lead to a deeper understanding of the options that I had within the industry and provided the much needed clarity on the things I did like, and those I did not. After a short time at the cloud service provider, and being recruited by a mid-size IT security firm, my search for and understanding of “the title” became clear; I had to match my skillset with the title that I eventually wanted. Have you ever heard the phrase “dress for the job you want?” That phrase is similar to my realization that I had to “build my skill set to meet the job requirements of the position I wanted.”

You may be thinking; “but there are so many job practice areas! Pen tester, auditor, IT analyst, sys admin, network engineer.” Yes, the cornucopia of job opportunities is immense, but it is important to stay focused on the title. There are two main strategies that I employ when it comes to the job search, and for preparing for a role.

  1. Focus on a title or job role that I desire – match the skill requirements. If I don’t have a skill from the list of requirements, it becomes part of my monthly or yearly goals to attain that skill to meet the requirements.

  2. Focus on your current skill set, and match those skill sets to available career positions.

The latter strategy is a bit more difficult and disconcerting, especially if you’re just getting started in the industry, but fear not! The whole point of an entry-level position is to provide inroads to a demanding industry to beginners. While you may have just graduated from a training program, or from a university program, you may choose to take the second strategy, and simply take the leap. You may be competent as a pen tester, or as a network administrator; so take that leap! You have enough of an understanding of network architecture, firewall/switch/load balancer management that you could land a great entry-level position as a Jr. network admin, or perhaps enough understanding of server administration and deployment that you can land an equivalent role. Use your expertise and understanding to land a title that will help you build your understanding, expose you to new things, and help form your preferences of what you do, and do not like.

For our more adventurous readers, considering the first strategy, but don’t disregard the second. While perhaps you want a title of CISO someday, start with your current core competencies. What do you currently do well that could help you land an entry-level position? From there, as you are working, you can start to match skill requirements for a higher-level position. We call that career building!

Remember, there are so many different types of roles and jobs, the best way to get a start, is by identifying your current core competencies, and matching yourself to a job role that you can do well. From that entry-level position, you can grow and flourish into the career you choose to build for yourself. Stay hungry, stay humble.

By: Patrick Ibrahim